What is Bokashi?

Probiotic for the Soil

Bokashi is available in over 120 countries worldwide and was developed in 1982 by Prof. Teruo Higa.  Bokashi means “fermented organic matter” in Japanese.  It is a probiotic made with beneficial microorganisms (lactic acid bacteria, phototrophic bacteria and yeast) which prevents all food waste including cooked leftovers, meat, citrus, onions, bones, fat and cheese, from rotting and rather ferments it.  It is an anaerobic process, meaning it wants the least amount of oxygen, so keep the lid properly closed.

Bokashi pre-composting is a two-stage method, thus first the 2 weeks fermentation, then secondly the decomposition of the food waste.   Important to note, the “pickled” food waste inside the bin, will not be broken down yet after the two weeks fermentation, but will be filled with millions of beneficial microorganisms. During the second stage it is then ready to decompose in a compost heap, feed to a worm farm or bury in highly depleted soil (we believe in not disturbing the delicate soil network under our feet, so we rather prefer a “no-dig’ method). 

The Bokashi juice (leachate) can be very smelly at the bottom of the bin and therefore can be tapped off and added undiluted to a compost heap or poured down the drain as a drain cleaner.

Can’t use the Bokashi contents at home?  Then let us pick up your 2 weeks old fermented food waste bin and swop it out for a clean one for you to start again.

Have more Bokashi questions?  See more answers under “Problem Solving: Your Bokashi Bin” at the bottom of the page. 

Benefits of Bokashi in Your Home

All Fresh Food Waste

Hard-to-compost foods like bones, cooked leftovers and citrus can now easily be composted or donated.

Go on Holiday

Take bin with you or Bokashi bin can stand closed for up to 6 months. Once you are back, it will be fermented and ready to use. 

Pest Free

No fruit flies, maggots nor stinking kitchen bins due to closed bin system.  Rodents are kept away when used correctly.

Fast & Easy

Clean, tidy and pathogen free method to sort out your daily kitchen waste indoors or outdoors.

Once a day add fresh food waste in bokashi bin

Layer food waste with Bokashi

Ferment for 2 weeks and ready to compost it

Bokashi – Easy Steps

Step One

Collect ALL your food waste including meat, fish, dairy, small bones, cooked and uncooked leftovers and throw into your Bokashi bin ONCE a day.

Do NOT add any liquids.

Do NOT add rotten / mouldy food.

Step Two

Throw a handful of Bokashi over every layer of food waste and always keep the bin closed.

Continue every day by layering food waste and Bokashi.

*You would use about 500g Bokashi per 25L Bokashi bin*

Step Three

Once the bin is full, keep it closed for 2 weeks to ferment.

Start with your second bin.

NB: Always keep bin out of direct sunlight as UV rays kill microbes.

Step Four

Tap off Bokashi juice if needed.

Use fermented contents in a compost heap, feed to a worm farm, bury in highly depleted soil, donate to SWVG or arrange pick-up with Circular Homes.            And start again 😀

Environmental Benefits of Bokashi 

Sustainable

Bokashi keeps all food waste away from landfills, helping with our global waste problem. 

Builds Healthy Soils

It helps in regenerating our soil, adding millions of microbes and boosting plants.

Environmentally Responsible

Bokashi method releases the least greenhouse gases, therefore reduces our carbon footprint.

Eliminates Pathogens

Bokashi is very acidic (pH between 3.5 – 4.5), thus no pathogens can survive in the bin.

Manufactured Locally

Our Bokashi is proudly manufactured in South Africa, thus lower carbon emissions.

Promotes Earthworms

Worms love Bokashi food, as it is softer and full of microbes, which they can digest faster.

Tap off Bokashi Juice?

It is normal for the juice to be very smelly, as it depends on what food waste you have thrown in the bin for example raw meat are more smelly than fruit peels.

The strainer in the Bokashi bin helps with the proper fermentation of the food waste.  The microorganisms do not like liquid and therefore cannot do their job effectively if they are flooded in leachate.

You can leave the juice inside, if it is not too much, until you empty the fermented food waste in your next compost heap.

How to use the Juice?

When you build a compost heap, it needs both anaerobic and aerobic bacteria.  Use the anaerobic Bokashi juice undiluted in the compost heap between the layers to act as a compost activator. 

Alternatively use the juice undiluted in the drains as the microbes eat the sludge and keep it clean. Can be smelly, so open your windows.

Studies show that plants thrive with aerobic organisms, so rather keep your Bokashi juice away from your plants. 

Problem Solving:      Your Bokashi bin

 

My Bokashi food waste is not broken down?

Bokashi is not a composting method, it is a PRE-composting stage.  Thus it will not break down magically into compost in your Bokashi bin.  You need to throw it in your compost heap, feed to a worm farm or bury it, to break down. 

Mould in your Bokashi Bin?
  • White mould is common and great as it suppresses pathogens, binds soil and helps with water retention.
  • Black, blue or green mould is unfavourable and should be prevented by ensuring there is enough Bokashi, airtight Bin and Bin is out of direct sunlight.  See below “Reasons for a smelly Bokashi Bin”.
Maggots in my Bokashi Bin?
  • Firstly, maggots can’t survive due to lack of oxygen and the acidic environment in the Bokashi bin.
  • Keep your Bokashi bin properly closed for 2 days to ensure they all die, as they are seen as a pest and can carry diseases.
  • The maggots can’t get into the closed Bokashi bin, unless you had the lid off or the tap was open.
  • Check where you put your leftovers before it goes into the Bokashi bin.  Try to use a smaller container with a lid and keep the container in the fridge to prevent flies from getting to the leftovers.
What to do with Bokashi once bin is full?
  • Keep your Bokashi bin closed for 2 weeks to finish fermentation.
  • Option 1:  Use it in a compost heap (minimum 1 meter high) by adding fermented food (nitrogen) in the middle of the heap, cover with LOTS of brown material (e.g. brown leaves or wet shredded cardboard/toilet paper rolls). Turn and water heap as normal. Ratio:  1 X 25L Bokashi fermented food and 2 X 25L brown material (carbon).
  • Option 2:  Feed it to a worm farm by slowly introducing it to them.  Add a garden trowel of fermented food waste in one corner of the farm and a week later on the opposite corner and so you continue in each corner. Always cover food waste with wet newspaper. The worms will get used to it and then love it, because it is soft and full of microbes. Ratio:  30% Bokashi food and 70% Carbon (like brown leaves, wet newspaper and wet shredded cardboard).
  • Option 3: Donate it to a Community Garden in your area.  They can always contact Circular Homes for any assistance.  We’ve been running the Bokashi program at the Somerset West Village Garden since February 2019.  You can donate 2 week old Bokashi fermented food waste at the corner of New- and Drama Street, Somerset West on Monday – Thursday 9:00 – 14:00 or Friday 9:00 – 12;00 (except on public holidays or when it is raining).  For every 10 full bins donated, you get a bag of compost.
  • Option 4: We believe in a no-dig method, so we only recommend this option if your soil is truly very depleted and you can’t do the other above options.  Method:  Bury fermented food in the soil by digging a trench of 20-30cm deep and about a meter wide. Throw the fermented food waste in and cover with soil. Leave for 2 weeks for pH levels to settle.  Once settled plant veggies, flowers and trees.  If you want to bury near established plants, ensure it 30cm away from their roots.  If you want to use it for a tree, ensure the food is buried away from tree’s roots e.g. in the dripline of the tree.
How to store my Bokashi and the Bin?
  • The best way to store your Bokashi, is in an airtight container out of direct sunlight.  The Bokashi can last for 2 years.
  • The Bokashi bin with food waste can be stored indoors, in the garage or outdoors in full shade.  The Bokashi bin can stand closed for up to 6 months.
What to do with a rotten Bokashi Bin?

If the bin can’t be revived after adding extra Bokashi and smells putrid:

  • Bury contents deeper than 30cm in the soil.
  • Leave for a minimum of 2 months before planting in the area.
Why do I not get Bokashi juice?
  • The juice starts coming through from about +-4weeks since you’ve started the bin.  Thereafter you can check for juice once a week.
  • Don’t get worried if you do NOT get juice at all, as it all depends on what you’ve thrown in.  Vegetables and fruits have the most moisture, whereas bones, cheese and bread the least. Used serviettes, paper towels and shredded paper plates will all absorb liquid.
  • Winter produces less juice than in the summer.
My dog digs up the Bokashi food?
  • Firstly it is not harmful or toxic to animals.
  • Dig it deeper than 30cm into the soil and fence that section off.
  • Alternatively, throw the fermented food waste into a closed compost container, but ensure the compost gets enough oxygen and the bottom must be open. Remember to add lots of brown material in layers and to keep it covered with brown material on top to reduce smells.

Bokashi Achievements at Somerset West Village Garden on June 2022

Bins Received

Kilograms Food Waste Processed

Kilograms CO2e Saving

Cubic Meters of Landfill Saving

Other Services

Worm Farm

We set-up worm farms indoors or outdoors which can produce vermicompost and worm tea.

Pick-up Service

We collect fermented food waste and turn it into nutrient-rich compost for soil.

Business Solutions

We assist restaurants, office canteens and estates with their waste management needs.